Kites rise to festive occasion

By ZHAO RUIXUE in Weifang, Shandong| (China Daily)| Updated : 2023-04-26

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Kites in all shapes and sizes dot the sky on April 16 during the 40th Weifang International Kite Festival in Weifang, Shandong province. The festival, which started in mid-April and will continue for about a month, has attracted more than 600 participants from 59 countries and regions. WANG ZHIDE/FOR CHINA DAILY

Innovative designs take to the air as annual event draws thousands

As spring winds blew, a huge crowd gathered in a field in Weifang, Shandong province, looking to the skies in awe.

Overhead, a sea of colorful kites in a multitude of sizes danced — their designs featuring high-speed trains, dragons, whales, peonies and cartoon characters, among others.

One netizen commented: "In Weifang, everything you can imagine, from sea animals to dinosaurs, can fly."

The 40th Weifang International Kite Festival attracted more than 150 teams from 59 countries and regions, who sent their kites skyward for the opening ceremony on April 15. The festival lasts for about a month.

Wang Yongxun, an experienced kite maker in Weifang, attended the festival with kites designed as different types of vegetables, including Chinese cabbages, carrots and green radishes.

"Weifang is known nationwide for its vegetables, so we designed vegetable kites to salute our hometown," said Wang, who also brought along another type of kite.

Displaying the kite, Wang said: "This is a traditional fixed-wing kite, to which we added a mechanical windmill in the center. When the wind blows, the windmill rotates, resulting in two model cockerels moving as though they are fighting each other."

Stanislav Kolbintsev, who comes from Russia, was attending the festival for the first time. He brought along an innovative kite bearing the image of a traditional bird painting. It took him more than six months to make the kite.

"For me, flying kites is a lifestyle. It's important for me to attend the festival to share my hobby with friends," he said.

"I am not good at sewing, so I made the kite slowly in my free time, paying great attention to detail. It's interesting to compare the kites from different countries at the festival."

In the festival's innovative section, Zhang Huagang and more than 20 fellow team members flew a 150-meter-long kite designed as a high-speed train. Comprising a locomotive and 50 carriages, it took the team about three months to complete the kite.

"We are proud of the fast development of our country's high-speed rail network, so we designed this kite to resemble such a train to send our best wishes to the nation and the festival," Zhang said.

Wind on the opening day was perfect for Andreas Agren, who comes from Sweden, and brought a light-wind kite designed like a Viking ship to the festival.

"In Sweden, more than 1,000 years ago, merchants and warriors built ships to sail to other countries — sometimes for trading and sometimes for war. I made this kite to connect with my homeland," he said.

In one area of the field, a 300-meter-long kite with 150 strings attracted crowds of photographers. It was so long that it frequently became entangled with other kites, forcing its flyer, Ma Liping, who comes from Inner Mongolia autonomous region, to ground it.

A total of 14 kites featuring a ballet dance design also attracted considerable attention.

Each kite, which is 2 meters long and just under 1 meter wide, is controlled by four strings. Flown by 14 people from Handan, Hebei province, Shenyang, Liaoning province, and Qingdao, Shandong province, the kites were deftly controlled as the well-coordinated team members changed step, tugging at the strings to form different patterns in the air.

Team member Bai Xuedong said, "On average, it takes a year to master the basic skills needed to fly the kites in a choreographed way that ensures the strings don't become tangled.

"Flying kites is a good way to stay in shape. If the weather permits, the team, which comprises retirees, practices for several hours a day."

Statistics from the organizing committee showed that the festival attracted more than 100,000 people on the opening day.

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